Gabby joined the school in September 2012. She had previously attended a mainstream secondary school, followed by an ASD unit and then an alternative education provision for students out of school. Previous reports indicated Gabby would take herself out of lessons, communicate in an abrupt manner with staff and find it difficult to conform to the expectations and routines of a mainstream school. Gabby gradually began to withdraw from all social interaction with staff and peers and became extremely isolated. When she did not understand what was being asked of her she would refuse to do the task rather than ask for help. A report from an advisory teacher for autism described Gabby as withdrawn and hostile to peers and adults. Gabby had extremely limited self-help skills as those around her prompted her to wash, put her clothes in the laundry etc. Gabby’s mother has additional needs, her father has passed away and her grandmother, who was Gabby’s primary carer, passed away shortly before Gabby joined LVS Hassocks. Gabby had extremely limited self-help skills.
Gabby settled well although she was initially a very quiet student. Residentially, she would spend time alone in her room, she was not spending time with her peers but joined in all residential activities with drawing club and baking club being her favourite activities. She has benefitted from the visual supports, which are provided for her across the school and residential environments. These supports have helped in reducing the high levels of anxiety Gabby has previously experienced when trying to interpret body language and facial expressions at the same time as decoding what had been said to her. Gabby has a literal interpretation of language and staff ensured they did not use idiom, sarcasm or metaphor when talking to Gabby. Instructions were written down for her and she was given plenty of processing time when asked a question. Gabby’s confidence and social skills are improving daily, she has made some good friends at the school and has a ‘boyfriend’. She has an interest in animals, which has been fostered by her attending a work experience placement at a pet food supply warehouse. She also undertakes some administrative duties in the school office twice per week.
Gabby is beginning to take responsibility for her own learning. She still needs prompting to undertake some tasks, but this is an area where she is making good progress. Gabby has just been accepted on a horse care course at the local mainstream college, which she will attend one day per week from September. Residentially, she is able to undertake all personal hygiene and domestic living skills independently. From being a young lady who would not undertake any physical activity, Gabby now swims once a week with her class and attends a gym session one evening per week at the local leisure centre. Time management has been a major difficulty for Gabby, but she is now learning to tell the time so that she can become more independent in both the school and residential environments.